CHARLESTON, W.Va. — About 25 family members and friends of the 29 miners who died in the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine called for “justice” Wednesday in an event outside the federal court house in Charleston.
Several coal officials have gone to jail in connection to the explosion, and there have been cash settlements in the wake of the disaster.
That’s not how many of those who gathered outside the courthouse defined justice.
“Justice to Don Blankenship? I think he needs to be doing prison time for what he did to these miners,” said Pam Napper, mother of UBB mine victim Joshua Napper.
The friends and family members called for the rally in response to a film Blankenship recently funded to tell “what really happened” at the mine. Blankenship was head of Massey Energy at the time of the disaster.
A representative from McCoy Coal Group, the new company Blankenship owns, said Blankenship had to cancel an interview previously scheduled for Wednesday with the Daily Mail.
Blankenship’s film asserts that a massive buildup of natural gas, combined with an inferior ventilation system forced on the company by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, led to the explosion. Massey energy once claimed the blast was an “act of God.”
Three separate reports — one from MSHA, one from the state, and another from a team of private investigators led by Clinton-era coal official J. Davitt McAteer and the United Mine Workers — all found Massey’s negligence played a role in the disaster…